With the release of another teaser trailer for the Retail web series, NZ Web Series Channel talked to the Director Paul Barlow.
Tell us more about Retail:
Retail was always conceived as a way for me and few friends who all work in Retail to vent – it’s a sad reality that there’s many smart, intelligent, funny people working in customer service who can’t escape from a field where people can be nasty or horrible or rude and the staff have to take it. But the nature of retail also means staff can get it from above as well – sandwiched between head office and customers is never a great place to be stranded. So Retail is our way of celebrating those people and sort of venting at the same time.
What can audiences look forward to?
Hopefully a story full of characters they relate to on some level that are fun to watch in some odd situations. The show is really referential so there’s a lot of things hidden that we want audiences to enjoy finding – different references and homages. The Prologue episode for example is told like the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring and in one episode you’ll find references to Jurassic Park, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Terminator – there’s a lot, and it’s all wrapped up in this story of one guy learning that maybe Retail isn’t so bad when you’ve got friends to help you out. Also expect robots, monsters, evil twins, secret societies and double crosses. So your average week in Retail really.
When can we see the web series?
Well we had a teaser trailer put out this week (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KklWqYYnqCw) so people can get a glimpse of it now and we’re aiming for late April for the Prologue then Mid May for the next two episodes. We want people to see it about the time Armageddon hits Hamilton. We’ve planned 12 episodes but are easing our way into it to make sure we don’t overstretch and tire out everyone involved.
How did the show come about?
Anyone that’s worked in Retail will be able to tell you that some customers are so insane they can’t possibly be real and have crazy head office stories. This one starts from when I was working at JB Hi Fi and the CEO came to the store for a health and safety talk and I was told very specifically I couldn’t say anything that made him look bad – but he then went on talking about how he saw this video about chumping (Child jumping) where a kid died so if he saw it in store he’d fire that person on the spot. At the time I was running Hamilton’s 48 Hour film competition and knew that the video he was talking about was a former Waikato Team’s award winning entry and totally fictitious. It made me realise that the smartest person in the room is seldom the one in charge and it kind of grew from there.
How long have you been working on the show?
Um, there may have been dinosaurs around when I started. Actually it’s probably closer to five years all up. It took a lot longer to get the story right than I expected when I first started out. There’s been influences that we’ve had for years, like Spaced and some more recent like Community – it all sort of feeds into the world we’ve created.
Where are you up to now on production?
We’re 90 percent done on the prologue, and about 50 percent done on the first two episodes, scripted the rest already so we can go into pre-production with them as soon the first episodes are sorted. It feels like a production line in many ways.
What have been the highlights of creating the show so far?
Filming itself for me, I love being behind the camera and seeing my crew grow and get better and more confident at what they’re doing, and watching as the characters come to life – and some of the reactions as well. JB Hi Fi banned their staff from being involved since they assumed it was about them, one property developer laid a complaint to my head office saying “this better not make me look bad, if I’m spending my money, I can be a f***ing asshole to your staff and they’ll take it” and my current employer asked me not to make the place look too bad – the show isn’t even set in the sort of shop I work in now.
And last words?
We’ve been really lucky to have such awesome people and amazing support to get what we’ve done so far – so I want to thank everyone involved – in Hamilton it’s such a small community doing this sort of stuff all the time that jobs like retail work need to be taken to pay the bills, and it sucks – it can be draining, and depressing. We hope that this show at least brings a smile to someone’s face and maybe makes them give their next retail experience a bit more of an upbeat ending. Also, if anyone has any non-retail jobs going – give me a call…
For all links and teasers to Retail: http://webserieschannel.co.nz/webseries/retail/